Jump-Start an Online Teaching Business in 9 Steps

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Chances are you’re good at something, maybe even an expert. Now, there’s a way to monetize that skill: teaching others online. There are a number of websites that offer people the chance to teach classes via video and get paid for it.

The premise is simple: Shoot a video of yourself teaching a class about whatever topic you like. Upload it to one of the sites, and let people all over the world pay you for the chance to learn what you know. Then, sit back while the cash rolls in.

Sites structure themselves differently — some require an upfront fee while others don’t. Pretty much all of them take a cut of the tuition.

For some people, such videos can be a cash cow. Some websites report their most successful instructors can pull in six figures. And once the video is live, it can be a source of mostly passive income.

Here are some steps to help you get started:

1. Choose your topic

Obviously, you should teach something you know a lot about, but it should also be something you enjoy doing — your enthusiasm will come through in your lessons.

The array of possible classes is simply mind-boggling: pastry making, street fighting, yoga, solving a Rubik’s cube, chess tactics, Latin and more.

2. Select your platform

There are a number of different sites that host online classes. In addition to Udemy, which was founded in 2009, the websites Skillshare, WizIQ and Alison allow people to teach classes about nearly any topic under the sun. Google also offers a course builder, with loads of tools for developing your class.

The different platforms use different business models, from paying you per student to giving you a share of advertising revenue. So, decide which model works best for you.

The different platforms have different requirements for what teachers do and how they do it. Choose where you want to post your lesson upfront so you can develop one that fits with the site’s guidelines.

3. Write your script

Don’t just get on camera and wing it — write down what you want to say. Read it over a few times to make sure you haven’t left anything out. Try the old trick of reading it to yourself in the mirror so you can work out some of the kinks.

4. Get some feedback

Before you actually start recording, have others weigh in on what you’ve developed. Find another expert to fact-check what you wrote. Find a test audience to make sure that viewers will actually be learning what you are teaching.

Once you have a viable, vetted script, move on to making the video. For more tips on getting a polished delivery on video, check out “How to Nail a Video Job Interview in 10 Steps.” Many of the same concepts apply here.

Once the video is finished, have someone review it.

5. Buy the right gear

Many, if not most computers come with a camera and microphone, so you probably have what you need for recording the video already. If not, you will have to make the investment.

Remember to keep those receipts — this is a business, and you can probably deduct the cost of the gear at tax time from any profits you make. Check with your tax adviser to be sure.

You’ll also want some video editing software, so you can polish up the final product. People aren’t expecting Hollywood-level production values, but a slapdash presentation could irritate your viewers or make it difficult for them to follow. And that will affect whether they recommend you to others.

6. Consider your surroundings

Make sure you think about what’s behind you wherever you plan to record your video. Go for a solid, neutral background, which will be less distracting.

7. Set your price

Like any business, you’ll want to be competitive. See what others are charging for similar classes, and try to understand where you fit in. People will pay a premium if your class is substantively better, but you need to earn the credibility that lets you charge more.

8. Don’t forget marketing

Just because you built it doesn’t mean they will come. You need to find ways to market your course so it stands out above others on the same topic. Many websites take a higher percentage of the tuition if they bring in a student, so it’s money in your pocket if you bring them in yourself.

Contact friends and colleagues, let people know on Facebook or other social media platforms, and encourage your networks to spread the word. Consider setting up an internet presence for your teaching business, so you can send out news about updates to your students.

9. Make another one

If people like your first few classes, keep making them. The more you have up, the more chances there are for people to (pay for the chance to) learn from you. Plus, now you have a customer base eager for the next installment.

Do you have a skill or interest that you could teach online? Share with us in comments or on our Facebook page.

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